Original Research

Outcomes After Endoscopic Dilation of Laryngotracheal Stenosis: An Analysis of ACS-NSQIP



From the Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL (Mr. Bavishi, Dr. Lavin), the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD (Dr. Boss), Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, DC (Dr. Shah), and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Chicago, IL (Dr. Lavin).


  • Background: Endoscopic management of pediatric subglottic stenosis is common; however, no multiinstitutional studies have assessed its perioperative outcomes. The American College of Surgeon’s National Surgical Quality Improvement Program – Pediatric (ACS-NSQIP-P) represents a source of such data.
  • Objective: To investigate 30-day outcomes of endoscopic dilation of the pediatric airway and to compare these outcomes to those seen with open reconstruction techniques.
  • Methods: Current procedural terminology (CPT) codes were queried for endoscopic or open airway reconstruction in the 2015 ACS-NSQIP-P Public Use File (PUF). Demo­graphics and 30-day events were abstracted to compare open to endoscopic techniques and to assess for risk factors for varied outcomes after endoscopic dilation. Outcome measures included length of stay (LOS), 30-day rates of reintubation, readmission, and reoperation.
  • Results: 171 endoscopic and 116 open procedures were identified. Mean age at endoscopic and open procedures was 4.1 (SEM = 0.37) and 5.4 years (SEM = 0.40). Mean LOS was shorter after endoscopic procedures (5.5 days, SEM = 1.13 vs. 11.3 days SEM = 1.01, P < 0.001). Open procedures had higher rates of reintubation (OR = 7.41, P = 0.026) and reoperation (OR = 3.09, P = 0.009). In patients undergoing endoscopic dilation, children < 1 year were more likely to require readmission (OR = 4.21, P = 0.03) and reoperation (OR = 4.39, P = 0.03) when compared with older children.
  • Conclusion: Open airway reconstruction is associated with longer LOS and increased reintubations and reoperations, suggesting a possible opportunity to improve value in health care in the appropriately selected patient. Reoperations and readmissions following endoscopic dilation are more prevalent in children younger than 1 year.

Keywords: airway stenosis; subglottic stenosis; endoscopic dilation; pediatrics; outcomes.

Historically, pediatric laryngotracheal stenosis was managed using open reconstruction techniques, including laryngoplasty, tracheal resection, and cervical tracheoplasty. Initial reports of endoscopic dilation were described in the 1980s as a means to salvage re-stenosis after open reconstruction [1]. Currently, primary endoscopic dilation has become commonplace in otolaryngology due to its less invasive nature as well as—in cases of balloon dilation—minimization of tissue damage [2]. The advancements made in endoscopic balloon dilation have reduced the frequency with which open reconstruction is performed.

Systematic reviews and case series investigating endoscopic dilation indicate a 70% to 80% success rate in preventing future open surgery or tracheostomy [2–5]. While increased severity of stenosis has been associated with poorer outcomes in endoscopic procedures, few other risk factors that influence surgical success have been identified [4,5]. In a single study in the adult literature, open surgical management of idiopathic subglottic stenosis was associated with improved outcomes when compared to endoscopic techniques [5]. Such findings suggest a need to identify these factors for the purpose of optimizing clinical decision-making.

As laryngotracheal stenosis is rare, postoperative outcomes and risk factors are best identified on a multi­institutional level. Due to its participation from 80 hospitals and its accurate and reliable reporting of both demographic and risk-stratified 30-day outcomes data, the American College of Surgeon’s National Surgical Quality Improvement Program – Pediatric (ACS NSQIP-P) provides such a platform [6–8]. Thirty-day outcomes and risk factors for open reconstruction utilizing the ACS NSQIP-P database have previously been reported; however, no such outcomes for endoscopic dilation have been described, and no comparison between endoscopic and open procedures has been made [9]. The purpose of this study was to utilize the 2015 ACS-NSQIP-P database to investigate 30-day outcomes of endoscopic dilation of the pediatric airway and to compare these outcomes to open reconstruction techniques. Secondarily, we aimed to determine if any demographic factors or medical comorbidities are associated with varied outcomes in endoscopic reconstruction. While these data reflect safety and quality of this procedure in the United States, findings may potentially be applied across international settings.


Data Source

Data was obtained from the 2015 ACS-NSQIP-P Public Use File (PUF). Due to the de-identified and public nature of these data, this research was exempt from review by the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago review board. Data collection methods for ACS-NSQIP-P have previously been described [10]. In brief, data was collected from 80 hospitals on approximately 120 preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative variables. Cases are systematically sampled on an 8-day cycle basis, where the first 35 cases meeting the inclusion criteria in each hospital in each cycle are submitted to ACS-NSQIP-P.

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